What is the Sustainiac Stealth Pro?
The Sustainiac Stealth Pro is an electromagnetic device that replaces you neck pickup in your guitar. When the player picks a string, with the system activated, the single is amplified by the Sustainiac circuit board. This signal is sent to the Sustainiac Driver. The Driver then uses that signal to generate and magnetic vibration in the string. This creates a feedback loop, with the sympathetic vibration building and building. The the additional gain stage built into the Sustainiac circuit board, you can generate harmonics of the original note played.
The effect is similar to standing in front of a large amplifier stack at load volume. The pickups on your guitar start to process the sound vibrations coming from the amplifier. This is then feed back to the amplifier. The Sustainiac is far more controllable and can be used a much lower volumes.
What comes in the kit
Sustainiac Driver: The driver comes in either single coil or humbucker. It also comes in either a 6 string or 7 string version. Only the 6 string version is available in white.
The Sustainiac driver doubles as a replacement neck pickup when the unit is turned off.
The driver is actually the same in both the single coil or humbucker versions. The humbucker version has a dummy coil next to the driver, simply to fill the humbucker route space. The pickup sound is actually set on the circuit board, allowing for the neck pickup to be voiced in two different ways:
Single Coil Sound: This sound is based on a Strat neck pickup, but with virtually no hum. The blend of the neck pickup with a typical single-coil middle pickup does not give as good a “quack” sound as a real single-coil combination, but the main “quack” sound is the bridge/middle combination anyway. Blues players tend to love the neck pickup sound.
Humbucker Sound: The humbucker sound is very fat, similar to a stock “PAF 59″ sound, but can have much higher output if you turn the trimpot control up high. Also, it has noticeably less hum than a typical passive humbucker.
Control board: The brains of the system. This small circuit board will normally fit into the existing control cavity. It handles all the sustaining operations as well as the voicing of the driver when it is in pickup mode. The control board has three small trimpots. One control the neck pickup volume. One controls the sustainer gain, and the third controls the harmonic mode gain only.
Switches: These can be mini toggle switches or Push/Pull pots, or a mixture of the two.
This is your choice. Some planning and thought is needed when deciding which switching option to go with. If your guitar has a tone control that you don’t really use, then replacing it with a Push/Pull Drive pot is a simple job. Stratocaster guitars with two tone pots can be rewired to give a driver pot and a master tone control.
There is also the issue of space. Some cavities could be too small to fit the two toggle switches in and have them in a position on the body where they don’t get in the way of the volume control. For this reason, Push/Pulls are very good option.
Toggle switch installation obviously required drilling two holes through the face of your guitar.
Stereo jack socket:
Replaces your existing jack socket. Also acts as another switch for the unit. In the same way that a guitar with active pickups can drain the battery if left plugged in, removing the instrument cable when your guitar is not in use prolongs the life of your battery.
9 Volt battery clip
25K drive pot (with toggle switch version)This allows you to have a separate gain control for your toggle switch installation. the push/pull version has this by default.
Optional 9V battery box. Some suppliers / installers will offer this, but it generally does not come as standard from Sustainiac.
A single 9 volt alkaline battery powers the system for about 15-40 hours depending on how much you use the Sustainiac.
low battery indicator: the neck pickup will stop functioning when the battery is drained to 7-7.5 Volts. The guitar will then default to the bridge pickup. This avoids the issue of the battery draining too low in the middle of a performance. You will at least be able to finish the song in this ‘limp-home’ mode. A quick battery change, and you’re back in action.
Using the switch section of a push/pull pot, your Sustainiac can be turned on by pulling the switch up. The push/pull pot can either replace your volume or tone control. This allows the pot section to be wired as a volume or tone control while the switch section is now operating as your Sustainiac on/off switch. When the Sustainiac is turned on the guitar output signal automatically switches over to the bridge pickup, regardless of position of the pickup selector switch.
Rotate the pot fully clockwise puts you into Normal mode.
The string vibrate normally, but with infinite sustain. This is otherwise known as the fundamental vibration, or 1st harmonic.
Rotate the pot fully counter-clockwise puts you into Harmonic mode.
Plucked notes morph into a high harmonic vibration mode. It will usually be a 5th and 7th harmonic.
Soft picking makes the harmonic change almost instantaneous. More attack on the strings makes the harmonic change take longer.
The pot also acts as a Drive control.
As you rotate the pot towards the middle position will decrease the Sustainiac’s gain. At the mid rotation point (5) the drive will be zero.
Push/Pull pot pulled up activates a further Harmonic mode called “Mix”.
What is Mix Mode?
It’s not really a mix of the Normal and Harmonic modes. It’s a totally separate harmonic mode.
This mode gives you a softer harmonic mode on the lower strings, and fundamentals on the higher frets of the upper strings.
Notes played below the 12th fret will mostly morph into 2nd or 3rd harmonics. Above the 12th fret on the high e and B strings, most notes will stay as fundamentals.
There are actually two different Mix modes:
The first mode is when the pot is rotated clockwise.
The second mode is when the pot is rotated counter-clockwise.
Many harmonic vibrations will be shared between the two modes, but some notes in the middle registers will actually vibrate in two different modes depending on the rotation of the pot.
Mix mode is much more like getting feedback from a big, loud amplifier.
Toggle Switch Controls.
The other option is to install mini toggle switches to handle the on/off and mode switching.
Some players prefer them as you can access them faster during a solo.
The toggle switch on/off control works very simply. A 2-way toggle switch goes from on to off.
With the toggle switch on the mode control you switch between Natural – Mix – Harmonic modes.
With the toggle controls, there is no built-in Drive control. The Sustainiac is always fully on.
An optional Drive pot can be fitted to give you additional control.
Optional neck pickup boost. (Coil Splitting option)
While the Sustainiac driver cannot be coil split in the conventional sense, there is a way to electronically coil spilt the output of the Sustainiac driver while it is in it’s ‘pickup’ mode.
There is an option to both raise the volume by 6dB and to also hot-rod the output to a darker humbucker sound. This can be fitted to a toggle switch or push/pull to give a coil splitting effect. It can also be hardwired to alway be on to match an existing high gain neck pickup or to match the bridge pickup.